For some Arizona families, purchasing nutritious food is a challenge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the federally supported program that provides needy families with temporary assistance to buy food. While the federal government has set the general eligibility requirements for the program, states may develop their own additional restrictions and requirements. Arizona is one of the states requiring applicants to meet additional requirements.
According to federal guidelines, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are available to Arizona households with gross monthly incomes equal to or less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level for their household size. Households with higher incomes may qualify if a household member is disabled or over age 60.
Social Security Number Requirement
Federal law requires that anyone receiving nutrition assistance benefits must provide his social security number. If you or anyone in your household does not have a social security number, you must visit the social security office and get one before you can receive benefits.
In general, you must be a U.S. citizen in order to receive SNAP benefits. Some non-citizens may qualify, such as those seeking asylum in the U.S., but in every case you must be in the U.S. legally to apply for and receive SNAP benefits.
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 50 who does not have dependents, called Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD), may only receive food stamp benefits for six months in any 36 month period. In addition, those designated as ABAWD must work in order to receive benefits. Arizona defines work as working a minimum of 20 hours per week in a 30-day period or participating in an approved program for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Approved programs include activities related to the Workforce Investment Act, the Trade Assistance Adjustment Act or an employment and training program.
Employment and Training Requirements
Arizona requires most people receiving food stamps to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Employment and Training program. You may be exempt if you are over 60 years old, disabled or, in some cases, have a child under six years old. The Employment and Training program provides participants with the skills and training they need to find work and support their families.
In some cases, you may be ineligible to receive benefits even if you meet the income requirements. If you are a fleeing felon, probation or parole violator or you have ever been convicted of using your food stamp benefits to purchase firearms, you cannot receive SNAP benefits. If you have ever used food stamp benefits to purchase controlled substances, or if you have been convicted of the sale or possession of illegal drugs, you may be banned from receiving benefits for a specified amount of time. Finally, if you do not pay your child support obligations, your food assistance benefits may be reduced or stopped.